It’s very difficult to sum up the game properly (and no I’m not being dramatic thank you) but I’ve given it a go. Doing a win like this justice is tricky but I’ve tried to balance the emotion with the reality. Before we begin, here are the bare facts, as the younglings would say:
- Blackburn hadn’t lost a game this season, although how accurate a picture that paints of their quality is unknown after so few games
- We were awful the previous game against the Millers
- Generally speaking, it’s been absolute torture down the Whitley Bowl in recent seasons
Right, now those solid pieces of information have been laid bare for all to see, I shall begin.
The lead-up to the game itself was completely overshadowed by the release of the new away kit (still on the fence, I have to say). I wouldn’t mind guessing that people turned up just to buy it and then go home again. I did actually pop in to see if the GK kit was available (and no, I’m not 12). I was also in the market for the away shorts, too.
Conveniently then, neither were available to purchase. There were also no child’s kits - which, despite potentially saving me a few coins this coming Saturday, will inevitably disappoint my seven-year-old lad. I trudged out of the mega shop with a face like a man who’d just been made a cup of tea in a microwave.
Blinking in the dying light of the day, I wandered towards gate five to begin my emotional rollercoaster up in row x. Team news came in with one word: unchanged. Lucas Joao made the bench which was a softener, but realistically Ince SNR was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. Plus, we have very few viable options right now - I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but we’ve had a few injuries lately…
In my heart of hearts, my expectations were low. I felt that if we didn’t concede within the first 10, that would be progress. Sure enough, that box was ticked with confidence and finesse. We then proceeded to rock all the boats in the canal by scoring on the 14th minute.
It appeared that going ahead against the table-topping team (despite what I said earlier about it being too early to tell if they are any good) wasn’t worth standing up for for some in the Dolan. I looked across at a few “sit down protesters” and thought “you wasters”. It irked me, I won’t lie. I couldn’t even call them fair-weather fans because, let’s face it, the weather has been diabolical at the Berkshire Arena.
We were playing well. Almost too well. I hoped the ref would somehow cancel half time and just let us play through, but he didn’t because he was an idiot who clearly wanted to be seen “doing the right thing”. A quick bottle of water at HT (£2.50!!!! Shut your face!!!!) and it was back to it.
The intensity remained, Loum was… well, looming, little Shane was like a moth round a lightbulb and Fornah was For-midable. We were still playing well. But how could this be? Saturday was a debacle. How had this group suddenly roused themselves like a group of mythical birds from some very hot air? What had gone on behind closed doors to make them stop being nincompoops? I didn’t have the answers, but I was enjoying watching them do whatever they were doing.
When Hoilett scored to make it two, I rose like a bear attacking a fruited tree. The strike, the hit of the bar, the celebrations (more people were standing now), the score line - all completely delicious. The pasting was rounded off by Lucas who came off the bench to tuck the third home after some superb work by Vieira (I mean Fornah).
I haven’t enjoyed a game like that for years, maybe since the game against Cardiff when Puscas netted a hat trick. Once we scored the first goal, any anxieties I had over our performance evaporated and we were in complete control of the game. The confidence, skill and passion the players showed was exceptional.
It should be a given every game, but we all know where we’ve been in recent years. Of course, this game will be quickly rendered pointless if we get turned over on Saturday, but the players have set a bar that fans will quite rightly expect consistently. We won’t win every game as comfortably as this, but we can definitely compete in every one as we did against the Rovers.
Until next time.